Tag Archives: Caterham

Former Caterham F1 boss Ravetto gives his side of the story

Former Caterham F1 team principal Manfredi Ravetto has expressed his frustration at the way the problems of supplier Caterham Sports have led to the team missing the US GP.

After Caterham Sports went into administration the administrator Finbarr O’Connell took control of 1MRT, the actual race team and owner of the entry, and announced that the team would not go to Austin. Ravetto had earlier been asked to step down from his role.

Meanwhile Tony Fernandes and the Caterham Group continue to claim that the purchase of 1MRT by Engavest – the consortium advised by Colin Kolles – was never completed.

“I am quite surprised by the latest happenings around the team and I thought it was time to rectify a few things,” Ravetto told this writer today. “First of all I was asked to step back under the promise that it was in the higher interest of the team and the team’s survival.

“I was promised that the team would keep going racing and salaries were paid and so on. Now the team is not turning up in Austin and the employees are struggling to get their money, and I would like to understand where we stand.

“As long as the management group I was a member of was in charge it is absolute undisputed that three things were happening. The cars were running, the salaries were paid, and the creditors were under control.

“It’s a fact that there are 300 families who have a problem now and nobody seems to be interested in that. I can only repeat that our priority has always been to keep the cars running, to keep the company alive, and to keep the employees happy and paid. Now I am not a Caterham guy and I am not an Engavest guy, I am workforce, so I am the same as a mechanic, same as an engineer.”

Ravetto insisted that there were key questions to be addressed.

“It seems to be undisputed by all parties involved that the team still belongs to the previous ownership [Fernandes]. My first question is why did Caterham Group and Mr Fernandes release a press statement on October 3rd saying they had nothing to do with the F1 team, and the F1 team was sold?

“I’ve been given plenty of reassurance and evidence that the purchase price has been paid. My second question is even if it was not why was a new management installed in the team? There must have been a good reason for this to happen. Otherwise I would have been forced into thinking it was just an exercise in order to shift over liability to somebody else, which is something I don’t want to consider, given the high profile of the parties involved.

“My next question is are we absolutely sure that there was no option in doing whatever had to be done in a timing and a way which was not causing this huge damage?

“How come CSL’s problem interfere with 1MRT? It comes to my huge surprise that a situation that affects company A has a detrimental effect of a death sentence to company Z. I’m not saying from A to B, from A to Z. This sounds very uncommon to me, and this is always something that needs an explanation.”

Expanding on the role of Fernandes, Ravetto said: “I think he is changing his version too many times. One day he is saying the deal has not happened because Engavest did not pay. Previously he said the deal happened and I have nothing to do with the F1 team. One day he says the deal has not happened because Engavest did not pay the creditors. And one day the deal has not happened because of not having transferred the building.

“How can we run the team for four months if we didn’t pay creditors? I think this is one of the most amazing things I ever heard.

“I understand that Finbarr O’Connell is fully in charge as per his request. I must say I found it very strange that he has also asked and received control of 1MRT. But I’m happy as long as the team is surviving. I’m afraid I don’t see this happening, that’s the problem.”

Ravetto played down the obvious suggestion that the plan was always for Caterham to morph into FRR, or Forza Rossa, the Romanian-backed team that Kolles has also been advising.

“I can say that at no time was this intended to become the Forza Rossa operation. The project from day one was to keep Caterham alive, to develop it, to expand it, also to integrate a structure of businesses, maybe with the chance of selling technology to third parties, In other words to make a proper thing around the team called Caterham F1. This was the task from day one. And this is something to which I was sticking until the very end.

“Nobody can say it wasn’t our intention to pay creditors, otherwise we would not have lasted until the Russian GP, and we wouldn’t have been ready to carry on. Everything was ready to finish the season, and everything was ready to start building the 2015 car.

“I just want to see the whole truth emerging, and I just want respect for the job which has been done, which cannot be disputed, and also the people who have worked with us.”

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Iley lands technical director role as Caterham restructures

Caterham has revealed further details of its management restructuring, confirming that Christijan Albers now officially has the team principal role.

In addition John Iley has become technical director having previously held the title of performance director, while former Ferrari and Group Lotus man Miodrag Kotur joins as team manager. Kotur was formerly Jean Todt’s right hand man at Maranello, and part of the ‘dream team’ of the Schumacher era.

A statement from the team said: “Christijan Albers is now Team Principal, supported by Manfredi Ravetto, General Manager and Deputy Team Principal. Simon Shinkins has also joined the team as COO, as well as Miodrag Kotur who is now Team Manager. Michael Willmer is the team’s new Director of Legal Affairs and Gianluca Pisanello is promoted to Head of Trackside Engineering. Finally, John Iley is now the team’s Technical Director, leading the work being done to improve the 2014 car and the 2015 new car project.

“The team has also confirmed that it has parted company with a number of employees. This is a necessary step taken by the new owners of Caterham F1 Team whose priority is the future of the team. No further comment will be made at this time.”

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Former Mercedes DTM boss Ungar set for Caterham role

Former Mercedes DTM technical director Gerhard Ungar is being lined up for a management role at Caterham as Colin Kolles continues to oversee a restructuring of the team.

Although he has not worked in F1 before Ungar is highly regarded within the sport. He joined AMG at the end of 1987, and after the company morphed into HWA he became its chairman in 2009, and CEO in 2012. His departure was announced in May after Mercedes experienced a difficult start to the DTM season.

With Ungar’s input Mercedes scored 170 DTM race victories, and he was also responsible for the F3 engine programme, which means that he is well known to several current F1 drivers. When he left Toto Wolff said: “Gerhard Ungar has fundamentally influenced Mercedes-Benz’s success in the DTM.”

Ungar is believed to have visited Caterham’s Leafield base on Monday.

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Sale of Caterham F1 officially confirmed as Albers steps in

As previously reported here Caterham F1 has been bought by a Swiss-Middle eastern consortium in a deal brokered by former Force India and HRT boss Colin Kolles.

Kolles will remain as a consultant to Caterham, which will retain its name for the forseeable future.

A statement said: “The new ownership takes charge with immediate effect. Former Dutch F1 driver, Christijan Albers, assisted by Manfredi Ravetto, will take over the day-to-day running of the team, reporting directly to the board and replacing Cyril Abiteboul who will leave the team to pursue new challenges.”

“We are aware of the huge challenge ahead of us,” said Albers, “Given the fight at the bottom end of the Championship and our target now is to aim for tenth place in the 2014 Championship. We are very committed to the future of the team and we will ensure that the team has the necessary resources to develop and grow and achieve everything it is capable of.”

Although it hasn’t been mentioned yet there will also be new technical direction, with sources suggesting that a name new to F1 will get the job. The new owners plan to make the team a lot more efficient than it has been up to now.

As previously reported here, Abiteboul is heading back to Renault and Viry.

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Consortium behind purchase of Caterham F1

A Swiss-Middle Eastern consortium is understood to be behind the takeover of Caterham F1, in a deal that will be confirmed in the coming days.

It’s believed that the consortium members, including interests from Dubai, intend to keep a low profile. The deal was brokered by a former F1 insider who will retain a role as an advisor.

As previously revealed here current team principal Cyril Abiteboul is expected to return to Renault’s Viry engine division with the full support of Red Bull. His initial task will be to give the beleaguered organisation some direction as it prepares to upgrade the current engine for 2015.

A new team principal and new technical direction will be installed at Caterham’s Leafield base, and it’s understood that their brief will be to improve the efficiency of the team – and try to ensure that it finishes in the top 10 of this year’s World Championship.

The Caterham name will be retained, as there are no plans to request a change for 2015 and beyond. The team will also continue to use Renault engines.

For more see previous story: (see https://adamcooperf1.com/2014/06/27/new-owners-at-caterham-f1-as-fernandes-prepares-for-exit/).

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New owners at Caterham F1 as Fernandes prepares for exit

A change of ownership of the Caterham F1 team is expected to be announced in the coming days, as suggested in my recent story on the future of Red Bull and Renault’s Viry engine base.

As part of the changes current team principal Cyril Abiteboul is expected to return to Viry to help bolster Renault’s F1 operation, at the behest of Red Bull. A new management structure will be introduced at Caterham.

Any new owner would have to purchase the Malaysian company that is the ultimate owner of the team.

Tony Fernandes dropped a clear hint about a change of ownership today when in closing his Twitter account he said, “F1 hasn’t worked love Caterham Cars.”

Earlier this year Fernandes told this writer that he was considering a withdrawal from the sport.

“It’s never made commercial sense,” he said. “But I came into the sport thinking the budget was going to be capped at $40m, and it’s never come anywhere close to that. But I’ve built an industrial division around it, which has made it make a little bit more sense.

“We’ll see how it goes this year, but if it doesn’t work, Caterham’s in a good position, and maybe someone else should have a go at doing it.”

It’s believed that the new deal involves only the F1 team, and not the GP2 outfit. The identity of the purchaser is not yet known, but it is not connected to either of the new F1 projects from the USA and Romania.

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